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In Style: From color to fabric, here’s what to consider when buying a suit

In last month’s issue, we discussed jackets. This month, I want to take it a step further and talk about suits.

If you think you don’t need to check out this month’s article because you never wear suits, stop right there. Every gentleman should own at least one great suit. Whether you wear it to a wedding now and again, use the individual suit pieces to build versatile ensembles, or wear it on the daily, a suit always proves to be a worthy investment.

Let’s begin by talking about the fit of your suit, because let’s be honest, if your suit doesn’t fit you well, then why even bother. We discussed jacket fit last week, so I won’t go into all the details again. We also need to talk about getting pants for your suit that fit you well.

There are a few key elements to getting the perfect fit in your slacks. You want to make sure that they sit at your natural waist. A simple way to locate your natural waist is to start at your navel and measure three fingers below that.

Additionally, you don’t want pants with too much fabric hanging off the leg. How do you know? Grab at the fabric on your pants leg and if you can fill your fist with the extra fabric, it’s too much. For a modern look, you want the pants to have a nice tapered fit.

Now, let’s talk about length. Your pants should hover in that spot right above your shoes or right on top of your shoes. Any longer is not going to give your suit that perfect fit look.

OK, you know how your suit should fit, but what type of suit should you buy? There are a plethora of styles and colors available to you and it can feel overwhelming to choose. I would suggest that you first decide what fabric type you would like in your suit.

Common fabric options include:

  • Cotton — Common suit material that is breathable, natural and durable. Might be a bit heavy if you are in a consistently warmer climate.
  • Wool — Thicker material that offers some texture and is a great versatile material for colder months.
  • Tweed — Textured, heavy material that is quite stylish by today’s standards. Can be scratchy but if you are willing to pay more, there are options that are quite soft.
  • Flannel — Heavier fabric that is breathable and soft, this is a great option for warmth but can be more expensive.
  • Linen — This is probably the most lightweight option out there. Great for the warmer months but creases easily.
  • Polyester — A great first-time suit owner’s option: soft, durable and affordable.
  • Polyester blend – Usually blended with something like cotton, this option is still quite affordable but offers the benefits of another fabric.

None of these fabric options are better than the other; it all depends on your suit needs and fashion preferences.

What color suit should you be wearing? You can find almost any option you would like, especially if you buy custom, but here are a few common options for color:

  • Navy — Your first suit must be a navy wool suit. This is one of my personal favorite neutral suit colors. It comes across as very professional and classy.
  • Gray — Gray is another choice that will never do you wrong. You can use this as a neutral as well and there are a variety of shades available.
  • Black — This is an excellent classic choice. Black is slimming and versatile.
  • Patterned — There are about a million patterns to choose from and choosing a pattern that fits your personal tastes can be a great way to show off your style. To start, go for a more subdued pattern like pinstripes or windowpane.

Now that we have surveyed the options, you might be wondering where to start. There are so many options, it can be quite overwhelming.

Here is what I recommend for suits:

  • Navy, wool, two-button suit
  • Mid-gray, wool, two-button suit
  • Black, wool, two-button suit
  • Light gray suit
  • Navy pinstripe, wool two-button suit
  • Charcoal, wool, two-button suit

If you follow that order, I guarantee that you will be building a great arsenal of suits. Follow this guide and you will be on the road to great signature suit style.